This weekend the FIA World Touring Car Championship arrives for the first time in the historic city of Vila Real, Portugal.
Inaugurated in 1931, history has witnessed plenty of racing action through the winding streets over the years including legendary names such as Sir Stirling Moss, however this will be the first time the venue has staged an FIA world championship making it a complete unknown for the touring car icons, including local favourite, Tiago Monteiro.
Tiago Monteiro hoping for success on home soil
Located in northern Portugal, East of Porto [Monteiro's home town], Vila Real translated as Royal Town provides a 4.7km temporary track with a sure-to-be close concoction of over twenty turns of varying speeds and elevation changes. On first impression this unknown high-speed city track, which Monteiro labels a 'mix of Macau and Nurburgring-Nordschleife', may seem a daunting proposition but with a blank sheet of paper yet to hold the WTCC records, the race to be the Portuguese victor is well and truly on.
Also marking the finale of the WTCC's European journey as the series prepares for a summer break following this weekend before commencing fly-away races in Asia, the picturesque city provides the perfect backdrop from which to draw a climactic season to a pause.
Tiago Monteiro: "I know very little about this track. I came to watch some races when I was 8 or 9 years old but like everyone else, I've never raced here. This track is very high-speed, but unlike some of the other street tracks we've been to, it is very flowing. There are a lot of direction changes in sweeping corners which makes it quite unusual for a street race, so I am really looking forward to getting out on track.
"Being my home event there is extra pressure and a more demanding schedule, but it's positive. It means a lot to have local support so I will be focussing 100% and hoping to put on an exciting, successful performance for them."
Gabriele Tarquini: "I have no experience of this track. Preparation wise, I've watched a few on-board cameras from other races so it will be interesting to see how we run here. It's difficult to predict results, but I think we have to remain cautious. It's a fast track with long corners, not tight and twisty as we come to expect with other city circuits, but I am really looking forward to racing here I like city tracks and it is good to know that everyone starts from zero. It's going to be a real challenge for us all, not just once we're on track competing but also in finding the right set up the track walk with my engineers will be really important."